A lot of my projects aren't really worth reporting on: "oh, I welded a bracket onto a piece of pipe for a guy... oh, I fixed so-and-so's spatula". Seeing as this is a bloggity blog, I suppose I should blather on at length about my personal life and all manner of other things that my sponsors indicate will improve my SEO.
Springtime is welcome. Right now it's a bit stormy; kinda nice. Fresh air from off the ocean. My neighbor's windchimes are going crazy. They always sound a bit melancholy to me, as if they are ringing after the passing of a tornado, and all the humans are dead. That notion is the product of having seen "Twister" at an impressionable age, I think.
I finally got out on the best section of the Marys this Winter, when the river was at about 10' at the Bellfountain Gauge.
It's so pretty up there. Even in the Winter, which is really the most reasonable time to paddle it.
Fair warning, there are some dangerous strainers around blind corners that absolutely require portaging. Be prepared to back-paddle and ferry to the side (all my portages are on the right, as it happens, but you may decide otherwise).
Finally got this deck frame installed on my customers' school bus. It's been fun to work with free-form curves for a change. It's a different kind of brain stimulation.
There's also a shelf that hangs off the back for mounting an air conditioning unit:
It's been my honor to do some work in the Whiteside Theatre, making a railing to bring their balcony balustrade up to coded height. It's 71' long with a gentle, sweeping curve.
Finished the bike frame for my buddy Donn. He rides a lot. This was my first time using a curved top tube.
Making a 1:10 scale model of the organ bike canopy. I really like this hyperboloid wing, but I'm going to try some other designs before committing to a big fabric purchase:
Still needs powdercoat, but pretty much done with the fabrication. This is a 7' x 7' deck for the top of the same school bus that got the solar panel rack. It's been fun to work on something that has some free-form lines to it. Gave me a chance to experiment with my tube roller.
I'll put up pictures of the finished deck when it's installed.
There are removable 6' posts that sleeve into receivers on the deck to make a safety railing and for hanging rope lights. When stowed, they fit under the eaves of the deck and are captivated in place by a clevis pin, mocked up in the photo with a piece of 1/2" tubing.
Other ostensibly interesting projects are a modular bike trailer for my friend Austin, who wants a set of trailer hardware that can be bolted onto an aluminum extrusion frame. Taking a leaf out of the automotive design book, we opted to use spherical rod-end bearings to allow for different configurations of the tongue.
I also finished up a quick bike trailer project for a local naturalist and ecological restorian to haul native plants and horticultural implements into the bush:
The organ trailer is nearing completion. The only major design element left to finish is a canopy to protect the rider and instrument from the sun and unexpected rain showers. I'm currently reaching out to textile experts for consultation on tensioned fabric structures. If anyone out there in cyber land has experience or inclination toward designing tensioned-fabric things, please let me know.
Anyway, here's what I have so far, just about ready for powder coat:
This took several months from initial phone calls to the final installation, but it paid off when everything ended up working the way it was intended and I learned a lot about pneumatics in the process.
The idea was to have solar panels stored beneath other solar panels that could be deployed on slides when the vehicle is parked. Since the bus has an onboard air system for the brakes, wipers, door-opener, etc, it was a worthwhile step to deploy the panels with air cylinders.
The extra large panels, 310W apiece, measuring 990 x 1640mm (39" x 65") required the use of some very pricey outdoor-rated drawer slides. I recommend if you're considering a similar project, use narrower panels so that you can use more readily available components.
Apparently, I don't know how to use the internet, so all the pictures on this page are clumped together in a weird order. It's like those books where they put all the color pictures in a few pages in the middle.
My old blog was full of boring stuff. You can see boring stuff any old time. I'll try to keep this strictly interesting stuff.
Solar panel rack:
Some cool folks with a school bus conversion ("skoolie", in fancy pants parlance) contracted me to design and build a solar panel rack based on this Youtube video. It has panels that deploy on drawer slides using pneumatic cylinders.
This has been a really cool opportunity to learn about pneumatic systems. Pneumatic components are relatively cheap for how versatile they are. The catch is that compressed air itself is expensive to create. Thankfully, the school bus has an onboard air system for operating the brakes, the windshield wipers, the flip-out "STOP" sign, and the door.
This project is done except for the final installation, so I will have more pictures later.
Dave from the brewery had me cut up some kegs for a stainless steel suit of armor. Hilarity ensues. Attaching the legs was tricky, but I ended up bolting some steel "cleats" to the bottom of some sacrificial shoes that lock into some hardware at the bottom of the leg.
The Organ Bike:
I keep calling it the "organ bike", when really it's a trailer. This nonprofit called Orgelkids USA has contracted me to build them a trailer to support their miniature, 25-key pipe organ and its player. It has a system of linkages that allows the organist to pedal to pump the air for the organ. It's been an honor, and they have been exceedingly patient with my excruciating pace on this project. Designing the suspension was a challenge, but illuminating.
I've been doing some framebuilding. It is the logical solution to being super tall and a welder. I like bikes that have:
- As much tire clearance as possible. Even if you never use it.
- Disc brakes. They just work, get over it.
- Mount points for whatever necessary to make the bike truly convenient. Why have a custom bike if you're not going to bedazzle it with stuff. My bike weighs about a gazillion pounds, but it is still the best bike I've ever had.
- A fit to my ginormous legs and arms. I have never until recently owned a bike that truly fits me. A lot of this is the fork. My fork is 900mm long. The longest commercially available fork that I know of is 780mm.
I've built some frames for friends too, which has been a good way to fund the learning experience. The latest one is a touring bike for 27.5 x 2.4" tires with very high handlebars. I'm using a curved top tube to give him some more stand-over clearance.